April 27, 2003
BOCA RATON, FL - For the fourth consecutive game, the Florida Atlantic University softball team came from behind to win despite trailing heading into the fifth inning. On Sunday, the reward was clinching the Atlantic Sun Conference regular season title as FAU outlasted Jacksonville State University, 6-5, in 10 innings in Boca Raton, FL.
The afternoon featured senior day, the winning run being scored by senior Jaime Melton, a two hour and 22 minute rain delay, as well as a four-run rally by FAU after trailing 5-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning. In addition, another rain shower prior to the start of the second game forced its postponement until Monday at 2:00pm at FAU Field.
JSU opened the scoring in the first game with a run in the top of the first and held that lead into the top of the third before the game was stopped.
Shortly after the contest resumed, Jessica Ford blasted an opposite field two-run homer to give the Gamecocks a 3-0 lead. FAU pulled to within 3-1 in the fourth when Jessica Braggins homered to left center. However, JSU scored two more times in the fifth to increase its margin to 5-1.
In the fifth, FAU put together the rally it needed to draw even. Pam Mazzarella doubled home FAU's second run of the day. With one out, Ginny Matthews scored on a throwing error before Callie Piper crossed the plate on a sacrifice fly by Braggins that made it 5-4 JSU. Ebony Gray followed with a single to center to score another senior, Alanna Sachs, with the tying run.
The game then turned into a pitching duel. Neither team could manage to score through the ninth inning before the international tiebreaker rule took effect in the 10th.
JSU failed to score in the top of the 10th despite having a runner placed at second to start the frame. FAU capitalized on its opportunity in the bottom of the frame when Melton advanced to third on a sacrifice by Jenn Piazza. FAU then employed the squeeze play as Piper's bunt allowed Melton to score the winning run.
Candice Freel (17-11) picked up the win. She pitched all 10 innings and allowed five runs, four earned, on 10 hits. She walked six and struck out 11.
Breanne Oleman (5-3) suffered the loss for JSU in relief.
FAU was outhit 10-8 but also was able to take advantage of three JSU errors which helped lead to four unearned runs. Mazzarella and Braggins each had two hits. Melton, Sachs, and Michelle Shirah were all recognized prior to the game as part of senior day.
The win continues a stretch in which FAU has employed late-inning heroics. Last Tuesday, FAU trailed Stetson 1-0 before scoring a run in the fifth and another in the sixth to win 2-1.
On Saturday, FAU swept Central Florida in much the same way. In game one, the Lady Owls trailed 1-0 before scoring two runs in the fifth and one in each the sixth and seventh innings to win 4-1. In game two, UCF led 1-0 going into the sixth before FAU scored one to tie and three more in the seventh to win 4-1.
The regular season championship is FAU's fifth straight and sixth in the past seven years. FAU will be the top-seed in the A-Sun Tournament which runs May 8-10 in Troy, AL. The Lady Owls have won the past six A-Sun Tournaments.
With the postponement of game two against JSU, Monday's 2:00pm contest will mark the end of the Lady Owls' regular season.